Most of the working couples we interview have hard and fast rules about downtime. Those are times when work is not allowed to creep in. We all need that time away. But, have you considered a working date?
This is something that Mr. Parker and I do regularly. It’s not that we need a break from work. There are just times when we need to free ourselves from the confines of our office walls (or, when on the road, our RV walls). It lets us open up our minds. For us, it means taking a hike. Getting out in nature. Nothing so strenuous that we can’t talk. And, depending on how much time we have, we go for anywhere from three to seven miles.
We usually pick one topic upon which to focus. We may try and hammer out something that has had us stumped. Or we may try to come at a project from a different perspective. Sometimes, we’re trying to come up with a tagline for a client. Whatever the challenge, nature is an amazing thing. It brings a freedom to our thinking. Fresh thoughts come to the surface. Yes, we may throw out 80% of what we come up with. But the other 20% can provide answers and insights that we couldn’t see from our desk chairs.
The added bonus is the positive benefits of exercise on body and mind. The added, added bonus is the bonding we enjoy as a result of our time connecting over solving problems. It strengthens us as a team.
Perhaps our tagline should be, “When in doubt, walk it out.”
Hope that's helpful.
It works only if you take it.
Running your own business can seem non-stop. That’s why it’s important that when we stop, we truly do stop. And then, we have to make sure we take the time to connect over something completely non-work related.
How to do this? It’s pretty basic. Reach out. Hold each other’s hand. Even briefly. And remind yourselves that you’ve earned this time together. This time when you aren’t working. Try to be in the moment and acknowledge that you’re enjoying yourselves. Say it out loud. Really. Say something like, “I’m really enjoying this.” Actively recognize the down time, or it’s easy to gloss over, like it never happened.
Chip & Carol Bleam of Freedom Chiropractic (CoupleCo podcast episode #19) have a practice we love. They keep a jar that’s filled with Popsicle sticks. Written on each stick is a different date night activity. Once a week, they go to the jar, pull out a stick, and whatever it says becomes their weekly date night.
Take the time to mentally log your downtime, and it will be there in your mind while you’re running your business. Then, you can clearly point to it, savor it, replay it, and enjoy the benefits of it. It’s important to be able to look at your life partner and see him or her as more than a work partner.
Hope that's helpful.
How do you take time off when it means both people in charge are gone at the same time?
Blaine and I have never said, “Gee, we need a vacation…you first.” Crazy but true, we like to vacation together…as do most couples in business together. But clearing the decks to make it happen is a challenge. And all too often, couples who don’t have someone to step in aren’t giving themselves the downtime together that’s required to recharge and remind themselves why they’re together in the first place. Not good.
Please, please, please, avoid the trap of saying, “We’ll take a great vacation next year.” It’s just too easy for next year to turn into the year after that and the year after that. Have you ever heard people say, “If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of other people?” Taking care of your union is as important as taking care of yourself.
Yes, getting away from work is work. But it’s a job worth taking on. I was inspired to write this blog entry when I saw a post from Cherie Ve Ard of Technomadia & the Mobile Internet Resource Center (episode #41). She said that she and Chris worked around the clock for two weeks. Why? They bundled all the work that had to be done currently—as well as for a stretch of time after that—so they could enjoy taking time off for an upcoming visit from family.
That’s exactly how we play it. Blaine and I go over everything that might come up during our time away, then do it ahead of time. It does make for some long days. Then, once it’s done, we schedule its release throughout the time we’re away. Yes, we have had to put out unexpected fires while away, but we try to not get sucked back into the trap labeled, “Our Clients Need Us!”
It’s too easy for your marital relationship to turn into an officemates relationship. Part of the work of working together is creating time for not working together.
Hope that helps.
Are Blaine & Honey Parker Relationship Experts?
Hardly. And does the world really need more of those? Instead, we are a couple who have worked together for over 20 years. We've learned a few things along the way. And now, we're traveling the nation interviewing other couples in business together. Join us for the ups, downs, ins, outs, laughs, tears (even though Honey believes Blaine has no tear ducts), and the inevitable, practical insights into being a better couple--in life, business and everything.